Malnutrition in long-term haemodialysis survivors

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2001 Jan;16(1):61-9. doi: 10.1093/ndt/16.1.61.


Background: Long survival is now common in patients with end-stage renal disease owing to improvement in dialysis techniques and kidney transplantation. As malnutrition is commonly reported in dialysis patients, we evaluated the nutritional status of patients treated with haemodialysis (HD) for more than 20 years.

Methods: Ten patients (59.5 years old; 4F/6M; HD treatment for 304 months; group A) underwent an extensive nutritional examination and were compared to a control group of 10 patients treated with HD for an average of 51 months and strictly matched for age (58.6 years old), gender, and height (group B). The patients were treated on a similar basis (long-duration HD, cellulosic membranes, Daugirdas index >2).

Results: The body weight (BW) in group A had decreased gradually from the 11th year of HD treatment, whereas it had increased by an average of 1.9+/-4.4% since the beginning of the HD treatment in group B. The body mass index (BMI) was lower in group A (19.3 +/- 2.3 vs 21.4 +/- 2.8 kg/m(2); P = 0.05). The arm-muscle circumference (AMC), the arm-muscle area (AMA), and triceps skinfold (TSF) were lower in group A than in group B. The fat mass assessed with anthropometry (10.8 +/- 4.0 vs 14.8 +/- 4.2 kg) was significantly lower in group A. The deviation of actual BW from ideal BW (IBW) was significantly lower in group A than in group B (80.6 +/- 10.7% vs 89.6 +/- 9.0%; P = 0.028); The deviations of actual BW, TSF, and AMA from standard values of the NHANES II study were more marked in group A than in group B. On the other hand, daily energy and protein intakes (DEI and DPI) were identical in both groups and met the recommendations for dialysis patients when normalized to the actual BW. When normalized to the IBW, the DEI appeared low. Energy expenditure was not different between groups, and not different from the resting metabolism calculated from the Harris and Benedict formula. Average albumin, prealbumin, and IgF-1 were normal and not different between groups. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), and especially leucine, were correlated with BMI in group A but not in group B. Serum total and free carnitine were low in both groups. Three patients had ascorbic acid deficiency in group A but none in group B.

Conclusions: Hence, despite adequate dialysis dose and protein intake, patients treated with HD for a long period of time became malnourished, whereas the classical nutritional markers remained in normal ranges. Among the potential causes leading to malnutrition, inadequate energy intake and micronutrient deficiencies were found in these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Carnitine / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Eating
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology*
  • Nutrition Disorders / metabolism
  • Nutrition Disorders / pathology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Blood Proteins
  • Carnitine